Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops from the pigment producing cell, melanocytes. It is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds which trigger mutations that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors.
They usually occur on parts of the body that are overexposed to UV rays, however, in some cases it can start in parts of the body that have never been exposed to the sun, such as the nervous system. While it is the least common of the skin cancers if left untreated it can quickly spread to other parts of the body and have fatal results.
Warning Signs – the ABCDEs of Melanoma:
Melanomas may look like a mole to start with but invariably changes over the coming months. Identifying changing spots is very important in early identification. They are usually seen rather than felt, there may be some itching. Superficial spreading melanoma is the most common type and follows the ABCDE of clinical assessment.
Assymetry – if you draw a line down the middle the two halves will not match.
Borders – tend to be more uneven in melanomas. They may scalloped or notched.
Colours – another warning sign is a variety of different colours. Ranging from shades of tan, brown or black, it may also become red, blue or some other colour that is not usual.
Diameter – they are usually larger in diameter, around 6mm or more. However, they can be smaller on early detection.
Evolving – changes in size, shape, colour elevation or any symptoms such as itching, bleeding, crusting are all warning signs.